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PHARMA - MEDICAL COMMUNICATION AND SAFETY

British docs to be trained in communication, safety

 

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT

12th August 2005: British health authorities have initiated an overhaul in its training programme for junior doctors despite concerns from the British Medical Association (BMA) regarding funding, implementation and future job prospects for doctors.

The two-year foundation course, called Modernising Medical Careers, has been designed to replace the existing house officer system. Communication and safety will become key areas in the new scheme, which will begin straight after medical school. 

The first year of the new training scheme will focus on communication and consultation skills, patient safety, teamwork, and clinical skills. The second year will offer experience in primary care, and an opportunity to step in where there may be a shortage of doctors. When the training scheme is finished, doctors are expected to take up specialist training posts, where they can choose which area to specialise in (eg, surgery, paediatrics). The existing system of pre-registration house officers and senior house officers, which can take over three years, will no longer exist.

However, BMA, the umbrella body representing doctors said the way the transition has been planned has risked worsening workforce problems. Modernising Medical Careers could bring major benefits to both doctors and patients, but its implementation needs to be properly planned and funded. It is vital that carefully thought-out solutions are put in place over the coming years or workforce problems will worsen.

One of the main issues for the BMA is that doctors who complete the current system cannot find jobs at the end of it - and the new shorter system will simply exacerbate the problem.

The Department of Health has downplayed the unemployment issue and 5,000 trainee doctors will be given the go-ahead to start the Foundation Programme - the first stage of the process. 

BMA points out that cutting training down to two years, from three or more, will inevitably diminish the number of positions vacant for newly trained doctors. It feels that the problem is very closely linked to another major issue - a lack of job opportunities at every level for newly trained doctors, caused by rising numbers of trainees and foreign doctors moving into the NHS.

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT

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